Tina Hassannia in Hyperallergic:
In 1953, the overthrow of democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh set a historic, chilling precedent. The coup d’état, orchestrated by the CIA and MI6, irrevocably shaped the subsequent 67 years and counting of US interventionism for the worse. Mosaddegh’s fight for Iranian autonomy in nationalizing the oil industry — built and exploited by the British — was undermined by his ousting and the West’s installation of a puppet leader, the Shah.
Director Taghi Amirani’s decade of research into the subject brings us Coup 53, a documentary that turns the analysis of declassified intelligence documents into a suspense thriller. (He’s aided by Hollywood veteran Walter Murch, who not only edited but also co-wrote the film — his first script work since Return to Oz, of all things.) The movie lays out the calculating logic of Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s oil-hungry foreign policy measures, and how they were influenced by Red Scare paranoia (they feared Mosaddegh would go communist). Experts, including Stephen Kinzer, author of All the Shah’s Men (a definitive English-language guide to the event), contextualize the history and political maneuvers leading up to the coup.